From April 2nd to April 7th, 2024, the Be happy! Romero Britto Japan Exhibition is being held at Isetan Shinjuku Store in Tokyo. This art exhibition features over 100 new paintings and prints by Romero Britto, one of the leading artists in contemporary pop art. Of particular note is the collaboration between Romero Britto and Sega’s popular character Sonic the Hedgehog, with the original artwork for this collaboration being unveiled for the first time in the world at this art exhibition.

On April 2nd, the opening day of the art exhibition, a PRESS PREVIEW was held in the presence of Romero Britto himself, as well as Shuji Utsumi, the Representative Director, President, and COO of Sega, and Takashi Iizuka, the producer of the Sonic series. In this article, we will convey the highlights of that event.

Romero Britto

Romero Britto was born in Recife, Brazil in 1963, where he began teaching himself art on canvases like newspapers from a young age. Later, encountering the works of Matisse and Picasso in Paris, he developed his own vibrant and iconic style by merging Cubism with Pop art.

In 1989, he was selected for “Absolut Art” by Absolut Vodka, alongside Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, which helped to establish his name globally. He has collaborated with brands such as Audi, Bentley, Disney, and Coca-Cola, and has been involved in numerous projects including creating official artwork for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The First Collaboration Between Romero Britto and Sonic the Hedgehog was Unveiled, Featuring a Lively and Vividly Colored Sonic.

At the PRESS PREVIEW, Mr. Kondo Shohta, the store manager of Isetan Shinjuku Department Store, first took the stage and delivered a speech. Mr. Kondo expressed his joy and gratitude for the realization of this art exhibition and Romero’s visit to Japan. He described Romero’s art as vibrant in color and filled with positive imagery, ensuring that it would bring smiles to all visitors. He concluded by expressing his hope that visitors would feel the “happy” theme of the event throughout the exhibition.

Mr. Kondo Shohta, the store manager of Isetan Shinjuku Department Store

Following, Mr. Romero Britto, Mr. Shuji Utsumi, the Representative Director, President, and Chief Operating Officer of SEGA, and Mr. Masao Akasaka, the Executive Officer and Head of the Research and Development Division at Japan Zeon, gave their respective greetings. Mr. Britto expressed his immense gratitude for the opportunity to hold an art exhibition in his beloved Japan and to meet Japanese fans.

Romero Britto

Mr. Utsumi from Sega expressed his great honor for the collaboration with Sonic this time with a smile, and he expressed his anticipation for the possibility of new discoveries from Sonic depicted through Romero’s creative filter.

Mr. Akasaka expressed gratitude for Romero’s utilization of the new technology developed by Japan Zeon, showing delight in the completely new expression made possible by the fusion of new materials and art.

Mr. Shuji Utsumi, Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Representative Director of Sega

Japan Zeon is a chemical materials manufacturer, and they have newly developed a material called “Wide Band Cholesteric Liquid Crystal Material.” By printing this material on film or flakes, they have succeeded in creating innovative visual effects. This is seen as a significant technological advancement, particularly in terms of anti-counterfeiting measures, and its future potential is highly anticipated. It’s worth noting that this new material is currently in the research and development stage. In this exhibition, Romero Britto’s print works utilizing this technology are displayed, with five pieces exhibited as reference items. These works are being showcased for the first time worldwide.

Mr. Masao Akasaka, Executive Officer and Head of the Research and Development Division at Japan Zeon.

After each speech concluded, Mr. Romero Britto, along with Mr. Utsumi and Mr. Akasaka, toured the Sonic exhibition booth and the Japan Zeon exhibition booth in turn, engaging in talks at each booth.

Mr. Britto’s art is characterized by eye-catching vivid colors and clear lines. Viewing his paintings, which resemble a “cluster of happiness,” evokes a mysterious sensation akin to being enchanted by magic, prompting everyone to break into smiles. This feeling is encapsulated by the title of the art exhibition, “Be Happy!”

In addition to landscape and still-life paintings, numerous artworks featuring various celebrities and scenes from movies were displayed in a cheerful and stylized manner. Observing them, viewers could reminisce about each character or scene and enjoy the artwork.

●Japan Zeon Exhibition Booth

The artwork utilizing the “Wideband Cholesteric Liquid Crystal Material” allows certain design elements embedded within the artwork to become visible when viewed through a polarizing plate, revealing text and designs. Polarizing plates were set up in front of the artworks at the venue for visitors to witness this effect firsthand.

Romero Britto expressed his delight in being able to incorporate his desired messages into his artwork in a new way, and he also emphasized the innovative nature of this technology in terms of counterfeit prevention, enabling the distinction between authentic and counterfeit pieces. As an artist, he expressed gratitude for being able to create beautiful artwork using this technology.

In front of the artworks utilizing the “Wideband Cholesteric Liquid Crystal Material,” polarizing plates were set up.
When viewing the artworks directly, without the polarizing plates, certain messages may not be apparent. However, when viewed through the polarizing plates, these messages become clearly visible.

●Sonic Exhibition Booth

Sega’s globally popular character, the speedy hedgehog known as Sonic the Hedgehog, has collaborated with Romero Britto, making it a reality. The original artwork of Sonic drawn by Romero in his own unique style is being publicly revealed for the first time at this exhibition, making it a truly valuable opportunity.

At the booth, a dialogue between Romero and Sonic series producer Mr. Iizuka took place. Romero expressed his desire for attention to be drawn to the color of Sonic’s eyes in his artwork, mentioning that he meticulously prepared and spent a long time carefully drawing.

In response to his comment, Mr. Iizuka passionately spoke about how, while maintaining Sonic’s inherent character, they were able to capture not only Sonic’s sense of justice but also his humor, conveying that Romero had drawn with affection. He expressed immense gratitude to Romero, stating that it was truly wonderful to collaborate.

The collaborative artwork featuring Sonic was unveiled by Mr. Romero and Mr. Utsumi, marking a highly anticipated debut.
Additionally, three other Sonic collaboration artworks were displayed for reference, and there were also photos showing Romero’s process during production
Sonic software was also exhibited alongside Sega hardware.

After explaining about the booth, I had a brief chat with Mr. Iizuka individually, so let’s also include that in the coverage.

We would like to hear your honest impressions after seeing the Sonic illustration this time.

Takashi Iizuka (hereafter, Iizuka):
Mr. Romero’s art has a very colorful, pop, and happy art style, and Sonic has maintained a pop design style since the first generation, so I thought it would be a great match. When I actually saw it, it’s strange to say there’s no discomfort, but it turned out to be very Sonic-like art, and I was deeply moved.

Which side proposed this collaboration and made it happen this time?

It was from our side, Sega. We proposed that Romero’s art and Sonic would be a great match, and Romero kindly agreed to it, so we were able to make it happen.

Did Romero know about Sonic?

I haven’t asked Romero himself, but when I talked to Romero’s son earlier, I heard that his son is a big fan of Sonic, so I think Romero might have known even before the proposal was made.

This collaboration in a completely different genre from games has been realized this time. Are you considering collaborations in other genres in the future?

Yes, that’s right. Sonic is now widely expanding into animation, movies, music, comics, and so on, so we want to reach out to people beyond just gaming fans as a character. There are many reporters here today who are not related to games, so I hope to expand in that way as well.

The exhibition will be held from today (April 2nd) until April 7th. Could you please give a message to those who will visit from now on, as well as those who became interested through this article?

For gaming fans, I think the highlight is how Sonic was finished by Romero’s talent. However, I also hope you’ll see Romero’s other works from there. Truly, every piece is wonderful in its color and offers a visually impressive exhibition.

Thank you very much.

The exhibition will be held at the event space on the 6th floor of Isetan Shinjuku Main Store in Tokyo until April 7th. For those who are interested, I highly recommend experiencing Romero’s artwork firsthand and immersing yourself in his world.

Source: 4Gamer

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